Santa Ynez Valley Fruit and Vegetable Rescue is one of five groups participating in Glean805, the second joint effort of gleaning groups in the 805 area code to collect food that might otherwise go to waste and share it with people in need.
Between Monday, which is World Food Day, and Oct. 24, which is National Food Day, the Glean805 members are hosting events to involve the public in the gleaning movement where they live.
Santa Ynez Valley Veggie Rescue collects excess produce from local farms, farmers markets and backyard gardens and distributes it at no cost directly to schools and organizations serving those in need.
Veggie Rescue works with some 54 partners, ranging from individuals and food preparation businesses to commercial farms and fellow social service organizations, to gather produce left in the fields, unsold food items and donated food items.
The organization then distributes that food to such local entities as the Buellton Senior Center, Golden Inn & Village, Solvang School, Solvang Friendship House, Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
“Here in the 805, we live in an area of agricultural abundance, yet there are many people that go hungry,” said Roxanne Sanders, program coordinator for GleanSLO. “Gleaning is an opportunity for communities to come together and help fight hunger right in their own backyards while connecting with their neighbors, reducing food waste and creating a healthier community.”
Even though Central Coast gleaning organizations recover thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year, millions of pounds go unharvested in fields and neighborhoods, Sanders said.
Community volunteers are needed to help those gleaning groups recover that unharvested produce to help feed the needy, she said.
Other organizations involved in Glean805 include Santa Barbara’s Backyard Bounty, FOODShare Ventura, the Ventura County Branch of Food Forward and GleanSLO, a program of the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank Coalition.